Football players spark outrage by dressing up as Serena and Venus Williams in 'blackface'
The players donned Blackface as their club's Mad Monday end-of-season celebration, and among the three players, two men dressed as Serena and Venus.
Three players from the Tasmanian Penguin Football Club in Australia sparked worldwide outrage after their pictures were posted on social media with them wearing blackface and body paint and dressed up tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams.
Reports state that the players donned Blackface as their club's Mad Monday end-of-season celebration, and among the three players, two men — Mitch Stanley and Matt Chamberlain — dressed as Serena and Venus Williams. Blackface is the practice of wearing makeup and costumes by non-black people to appear as a person of color. The practice, which is seen as disparaging stereotypes, is strongly criticized by the Aboriginal community, civil rights and anti-discrimination groups and activists.
The third player, identified as Beau Grundy, was pictured standing between the two players, dressed as Sydney Swans player Aliir Aliir for the occasion. Aliir is the first Sudanese player to be selected for the NAB AFL National Draft and the second to make an AFL list after North Melbourne's Majak Daw, reports state.
The controversial picture of the players comes a week after an Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, had published a "disgustingly racist" cartoon of Serena Williams, causing outrage.
The paper later defended its cartoonist Mark Knight's depiction of the 23-time Grand Slam winner, where he portrayed Williams as a large figure with exaggerated pink lips as she jumps on a smashed racket as a baby's pacifier lies nearby. The cartoon referred to the row between Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos during her final match against Japanese opponent Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows last week.
The cartoon, which was first published on Monday last week after Williams' outburst at the US Open final, was slammed by many as they accused Knight of basing the illustration on racist and sexist tropes and perpetuating the stereotype of the "angry black woman."
The Tasmanian football club has reportedly apologized for their players' actions in a statement, adding that it did not happen on club premises and it was completely unacceptable behavior. The club added that the actions of its players were not intended to be racist and that they had dressed up as their idols.
"It was not their intention to upset anyone and all they meant to do was dress as one of their sporting idols. Their actions were never intended to be racist in any way. Those concerned have been reprimanded and will be given support to make sure they understand that their behaviour was racist and hurtful and that it will not happen again. The players concerned have acknowledged that what they did was completely and utterly unacceptable and would like to apologise unreservedly for their lack of judgement," the club stated, according to ABC News.